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Bidding Analysis Hand #5

Can you get to 12 tricks including the last trick? If so, then can you count on shutting your opponents out of the hand (31+ points). When you are "assured" that you can take 31+ and keep your opponents from saving their meld, how does that change your bidding?
Easy: this hand is yours, dammit. Smile Barring a double run on partner's side. You're a massive favorite to have the best hand. Even if partner has something like 9-6 in spades/hearts (possible), the quality of your suits is such that this hand is better.

You have 39 meld, and 31 from tricks. That's 70. One thing to note: partner may NOT have much trick support for you, as you may well be forced to ruff his aces. Still: when you can pull 31 easily (start with QC at trick 1; can't afford to start with ACAC because the suit, good as it is, lacks secondary strength, and the diamonds will play themselves later even if you don't see the 4th AD early). When that's the case, it's worthwhile to be aggressive. initial limit on the hand is 90. This may change, but that's my starting point. Some potential auctions:

1. Pard opens 51. Hooo BOY! 40's so in the bag, UNLESS my first play (KD to partner) gets whacked. (On a quick side note, this is why I DON'T like giving 'aces' when you have 10ish meld and 6 aces. The key here isn't general aces, it's specific aces.) 39 + 40 + at least 10 is still just 90, but now that's a *safe* level.

2. LHO opens 52, pass, pass to you. I'll bid 65, expecting to buy it. If LHO bids 70, I'll bid 75. If he continues to 80, I have a decision. 85 counts on partner for 15, but with this extreme a hand, that's less likely than normal. Conversely, how likely is LHO to make his bid? If LHO is an absolutely dedicated meld-first bidder, he may well have 9-6 in spades/hearts, and 80 might be makable. I'll go 85. If he's a mastermind type, he may be jerking you around...but still, you have to assume that he's got to believe he's got SOME play for 31, whether that makes or not. Taking a set when you stop the opponents from collecting their meld is not a disaster; taking a big set when the opponents DO save, is.

3. LHO opens 52, pass, 54. 75 feels right, and 85 over 80. 80's plausible: 40 announced, plus a run to push it to 55, and a split deck. 75 jams them *hard*, taking away their bidding space ESPECIALLY if they're meld-first always types. (LHO in particular...can he bid a 6 card or weak 7 card run?)

4. You're first. 50 is always open; let partner give meld. The risk is it may let LHO give meld. In addition, it's plausible partner has a good hand (8-6 in spades/hearts, ACXC) so he may not want to give meld.

Some players open 60, or sometimes 65, on something like 8-5-4-3 with aces around, with a moderate (say, AGTGTGKGKGQGQGJG) trump suit. That's a good hand, but it's not 31 on its own unless there's tons of side aces...and even then, those side aces will also work for your partner.

So...I'd open 20 less than my max. 65 if I plan to stop at 85, 70 if I'll push to 90. (The game score may decide this.) The hand is so strong from a play perspective that it's worth being this unilateral. I discount 60; LHO can jump to 70 on 30 meld a bit too easily. 65 to 75 on, say, a roundhouse and a pinochle? That's rich. 70 to 80? That needs close to 40. Conversely, if partner has that roundhouse and pinochle, CAN jump...even 70 to 80. I've shouted that I've got a monster hand.

This, of course, requires a thinking partnership. It's bidding on the whole auction. Compare these two sequences:


The first is the kind of situation under discussion. Opening 65 promises a WHOLE lot, so the jump to 75 would be reasonable with as little as 24-26 with 3 aces, or even 22 with aces around. The second...opening 50 doesn't promise much. It can easily be, say, a 19 point double ace run and a couple side aces. That's 40 (20 meld, 8 tricks). 75 forces partner to rebid 80...if that's all he's got, then your jump to 75 has to show a hand worth close to 40. In the first case, 65 showed great strength and means 31 should at least be close. 50 didn't, so you risk the major disaster of the big set and opponents' save.

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